Bobby Labonte, Interstate Batteries Pontiac is doing a Goodyear tire test. Labonte is currently leading the Winston Cup points standings by four points over Dale Jarrett. Labonte has 490 points. Labonte finished second in the points race a year...
Bobby Labonte, Interstate Batteries Pontiac is doing a Goodyear tire test. Labonte is currently leading the Winston Cup points standings by four points over Dale Jarrett. Labonte has 490 points. Labonte finished second in the points race a year ago. Labonte will be back on Wednesday for a second day of Goodyear tire testing.
Bobby Labonte --It's still too early in the year to be talking about a championship, but you seem to have picked up where you left off last year running really good. "Well you think you can go out and do as good as you did at the end of the season. But after you go six or eight weeks without racing, you say gosh I hope I can hit all the right marks again. The other teams are advancing a lot and we hope that we can advance the same. I'm glad we have three races under our belt and have been competitive in all three and back on track hopefully. I definitely feel more comfortable now than I did before Daytona. I had a little pre-season jitters. " "Three races into the season we aren't thinking much about points. We've had a great season so far. It's a good feeling. We have a great race team, a positive outlook, and working real hard to improve at each race track we go to."
Do you think everyone is looking to you as the man to beat now?
"I don't really know that. I don't think I've ever been the points leader. I 've been close a few times. I hope we don't approach things now any different than we did the week before, and the week before. We just need to go out there and concentrate on our race car, race with what we have and not worry about anyone aiming at us."
What is your reaction to the changes NASCAR announced on Monday for the Chevrolets?
"We just race our race team and we race by NASCAR rules. Whatever rule they make we race by it. Our team gives 100% effort into it and we still have to do that."
What does tire testing do for your team?
"We are trying to figure out a lot of stuff for Goodyear and make improvements on their race tire for safety. Make it as consistent as possible and make it as competitive as possible. You might try a softer tire that might go fast for a little bit, but it might give up a lot at the end. We are looking for a tire that will be safe and consistent throughout a long run. "Anytime you get laps on the race car it helps. If the tire they pick is the one we like too maybe that will help us out. You don't have to be off much here. A tenth of a second could be ten positions here. They can take what they have learned and come back and have a great tire for us and we can take what we learned by running some laps. I've already spun out once and that is usually good for me here. At least we will come back with more of an advantage than if we hadn't have come here."
Talk about Joe Gibbs Racing and how this team has become one the premiere teams in racing.
"It's not been an overnight success because they have been going at it for eight years. We work hard at it. I've been there for five years now. It's a great place to work and a great car owner to drive for. We have a lot of good times and we work real hard to achieve the goals we set."
Steve Boyer, development engineer with Goodyear Tire Company -- What goes into doing a tire test for Goodyear?
"We look at what happened last year and go through what improvements can be made and basically go build some tires and come to the race track with all those different sets of tires. We do long runs and short runs. We look at tire temperatures and pressures, driver feel and stop watch times. We take all of that into account when we are trying to make a race recommendation. We try to make it as good as possible for every driver that is coming here."
Jimmy Makar (Crew Chief for Bobby Labonte)- As a crew chief, how do you like coming here?
"Martinsville is a fun race track to come race at. It's very unique in its layout and the types of things you have to do. You have a lot of input into what happens here. Obviously chassis is a big part of it. Brakes are a big part of it. That's something we don't work hard on at a lot of other race tracks. Track position is very important. All of the elements that come into being for a crew chief that you have to work hard at come to play here at Martinsville. It's makes it very fun to come here and have all of that to work with.
Steve Sheppard Senior Director of Corporate Communications Martinsville Speedway